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Ultimate National Parks Expedition

  • Trip Type: Land
  • 15 Days | Jackson to Las Vegas
  • Group Size: Max 25

Expedition Details

 

Venture into the wilderness with our experts and explore five of America’s most iconic national parks, traveling from Grand Teton and Yellowstone to Glacier, the Olympic Peninsula, and the Grand Canyon, and learn about National Geographic’s vital role in preserving and promoting these natural treasures.

Trip Highlights

    • Explore an astonishing diversity of landscapes in five national parks.
    • Stay in historic park lodges, and examine the achievements of the past century with representatives from the National Park Service.
    • Admire the soaring peaks of the Tetons, and witness Old Faithful geyser’s spectacular eruptions in Yellowstone.
    • Raft down the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in Glacier National Park.

Itinerary - 15 Days

Day 1 — Jackson, Wyoming/Grand Teton National Park

Arrive in the lively mountain town of Jackson, gateway to Grand Teton National Park. Go for a short hike with spectacular views of the snowdusted pinnacles of the Teton Range. Visit the National Elk Refuge, and gather for a welcome dinner.
Rustic Inn at Jackson Hole (D)

Days 2 & 3 — Grand Teton National Park/Yellowstone National Park

Delve into the natural and human history of Grand Teton National Park at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, and walk scenic trails along Phelps Lake. Then drive north to Yellowstone—the world’s first national park, established in 1872. Most of the park rests atop a slumbering volcano whose magma chamber is the source of the area’s colorful hot springs, steaming fumaroles, and geysers—including Old Faithful, whose eruptions we will witness this evening. Spend the next day exploring gurgling mud pots and mesmerizing mineral pools. Have dinner at Old Faithful Inn, a national historic landmark.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge (B,L,D Daily)

Days 4 & 5 — Yellowstone National Park

Head out early to search for wildlife in Hayden Valley. Visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and walk the rim to view thundering waterfalls. Cross Dunraven Pass on our way to Mammoth Hot Springs, where thermal waters have sculpted travertine terraces over thousands of years. During our stay, a park representative will provide insight into the National Park Service’s history and its vision for the future. Explore Lamar Valley, known as “the Serengeti of North America.” Learn about the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, and use spotting scopes to observe bison, eagles, coyotes, and perhaps even a grizzly.
Best Western By Mammoth Hot Springs (B,L,D Daily)

Days 6 & 7 — Missoula, Montana/Glacier National Park

Journey through Montana’s Rockies to Missoula, and discover the lively downtown. The following morning, continue north through the Mission Range to Flathead Lake. Take to the waters of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, which forms the southern border of Glacier National Park. Paddle Class II and III rapids through rugged canyons, keeping an eye out for bears, bald eagles, and ospreys.
Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown (B,L) and Lake McDonald Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Glacier National Park

Named after the slow-moving glaciers that carved these valleys over hundreds of thousands of years, Glacier is one of America’s most magnificent national parks—boasting nearly 1,600 square miles of what naturalist John Muir called “the best care-killing scenery on the continent.” Take in awe-inspiring vistas as we navigate Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 52-mile engineering marvel that crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Explore St. Mary Lake and unwind with a trailside picnic. This evening, enjoy a talk with a park representative.
Lake McDonald Lodge (B,L,D)

Days 9 & 10 — Kalispell/Seattle, Washington/Olympic National Park

Transfer to the airport in Kalispell for our flight to Seattle. Upon arrival, drive into the heart of Olympic National Park, first declared a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt—one of the park system’s greatest patrons—and subsequently designated a national park by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938. This vast wilderness harbors diverse ecosystems, with glacial peaks presiding over spruce-shrouded rain forest, crystalline lakes and rivers, and sandy beaches. Paddle along the coast in a sea kayak looking for seals, otters, and whales. Then head up to Hurricane Ridge to take in show-stopping views of Mount Olympus as we hike through subalpine meadows.
Lake Crescent Lodge (B,L,D Daily)

Days 11 & 12 — Olympic National Park/Phoenix, Arizona

Venture deep into Hoh Rain Forest, marveling at monumental Sitka spruce and western hemlock stands. Walk amid tide pools, sea stacks, and nesting seabirds on Ruby Beach. Have dinner in the historic Roosevelt Dining Room at Lake Quinault Lodge. The next day, fly from windswept coast to high desert, arriving in Phoenix, Arizon for the night.
Lake Quinault Lodge; Camelback Inn Resort and Spa (B,L,D Daily)

Days 13 & 14 — Grand Canyon National Park

Along our journey north to the Grand Canyon, enjoy a stop at Montezuma Castle National Monument as well as a short hike at Walnut Canyon. A park representative joins us for dinner to introduce us to the history of the Grand Canyon. Spend the next day exploring the South Rim, which frames the canyon’s one-mile-deep chasm—carved by the Colorado River over millions of years. Choose from a variety of hikes, and take in the dazzling colors of sunset. Celebrate our national parks expedition during a farewell dinner at El Tovar hotel, perched on the canyon’s rim.
Kachina Lodge (B,L,D Daily)

Day 15 — Grand Canyon/Boulder City/Las Vegas

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view over the Grand Canyon as we fly to Boulder City, Nevada. Transfer to nearby Las Vegas for your flight home.
(B)

Related Trips

National Geographic Expert

Jeremy Schmidt

Jeremy  SchmidtFew people know Yellowstone country and America's national parks better than wildlife biologist Jeremy Schmidt. He has worked in and around Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons for more than 30 years, including stints as a park ranger, a naturalist, a photographer, and an author, writing several articles for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines. He has also written several books for National Geographic, including titles on Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and the Northern Rockies. His knowledge and passion for America's national parks will enrich your experience.

Jeremy will join the following departure:

Aug 31 - Sep 14, 2017

Dates

2017
  • Aug 31 - Sep 14, 2017

Expedition Cost

2017

$10,395

Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $2,575 in 2017. The group flights during the trip totaling $995 are not included. Airfare to Jackson and return from Las Vegas is not included in the expedition cost.

Featured Traveler Photo

Activity Level

Light/Moderate

Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

What To Expect

This expedition is designed to accommodate guests at different activity levels. Choose hiking options ranging from easy two-to-four-mile walks to moderate or challenging hikes of five miles or more. Additional activities, such as rafting and kayaking, are fit for all levels of experience.